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YouTube star Adam Saleh says he was booted from a Delta flight for speaking Arabic

YouTube star Adam Saleh, best known for his pranking videos, as well as his examinations of how the world interacts with Muslims, was removed from a Delta flight Wednesday at Heathrow Airport in London.

Saleh claims he was asked to leave the flight after some passengers reported being uncomfortable after Saleh was heard speaking Arabic on the phone to his mother, as well as to Slim Albaher, his travel companion.

In a video posted from the plane after Delta’s request to remove him, Saleh said, “We spoke a different language on the plane, and now we’re getting kicked out. This is 2016. I cannot believe my eyes. 

“I spoke a word, and you said you feel uncomfortable. Why are you guys doing that? Just because I spoke a different language,” Saleh continued.

In the background of the video, fellow passengers can be seen waving as Saleh films them, while others offered support.

(Warning: The video below contains strong language that could be considered offensive.)

https://twitter.com/omgAdamSaleh/status/811531782982078464

“I was speaking to my mom on the phone like I always do before getting on a flight. I call her before I take off and when I land so that she knows I am safe and well,” Saleh said in a statement released after the onboard events transpired. 

“I was speaking in Arabic when a female passenger began shouting that they felt uncomfortable. This encouraged almost 10 other passengers to agree and shout the same thing.

“We were kicked off the flight while those passengers mocked us. We are currently getting ready to get onto another flight with another Airline. I will keep everyone updated with the situation through social media! I appreciate everyone’s support and effort in raising awareness on this,” Saleh concluded .

According to a statement released by Delta, the incident took place on Flight 1, from London to New York City.

“Two customers were removed from this flight and later rebooked after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort. We’re conducting a full review to understand what transpired. We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect,” the statement read.

Saleh, who has nearly 4 million subscribers to his YouTube channels, was visibly emotional in Periscope videos posted after he and Albaher had been removed from the flight.

Some question the validity of Saleh’s claims, citing “cry wolf” syndrome, given his prankster past and a prominent hoax video involving racial profiling. 

Last week, Saleh claimed to have flown from Melbourne, Australia, to Sydney in the baggage hold, a prank that immediately was debunked by the airline, Tigerair, which released footage that showed Saleh boarding the plane in proper fashion.

https://twitter.com/TigerairAU/status/808965118797103104

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Saleh’s manager dismissed the idea that the latest video was a hoax, telling BuzzFeed News that it was “as real as it gets.”

According to Saleh’s Twitter feed, he and Albaher were questioned by police after leaving the plane, before eventually booking a new flight to New York with a different airline. The YouTube personality also tweeted that he would be consulting his lawyer once he landed.

Delta’s handling of the Saleh incident stands in stark contrast to the way the airline handled another recent controversy.

On Nov. 22, a Donald Trump supporter stood in the aisle of Flight 248 from Atlanta to Allentown, Pa., and berated other passengers. (Warning: The video below contains explicit language.)

Delta released a similar statement in the aftermath of that incident, indicating, “We are sorry to our customers who experienced this disruption. We have followed up with the teams involved and all agree that this customer should not have been allowed to continue on the flight.

“Our responsibility for ensuring all customers feel safe and comfortable with Delta includes requiring civil behavior from everyone,” it added. “The behavior we see in this video does not square with our training or culture and follow up will continue so we can better ensure our employees will know they will be fully supported to make the right decisions when these issues arise.”

The unruly passenger was banned from flying Delta in the future, but he was allowed to complete his flight as scheduled.

In August, Nazia and Faisal Ali, an Ohio Muslim couple returning home after celebrating their 10th anniversary in Paris, were removed from a Delta flight because a crew member reported being uncomfortable, specifically because Nazia was wearing a headscarf and using a phone and Faisal was sweating.

Delta released a statement after the incident, asserting that the company “condemns discrimination in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or gender” and offered the couple a full refund of their tickets, promising they would continue to investigate the incident.

Delta recently proved that it could change in the face of controversy, announcing Monday that as of Dec. 1, medical professionals no longer would need to show credentials to assist with in-flight medical emergencies.

The policy came after an October incident in which Dr. Tamika Cross, a young black woman, attempted to help an ill passenger only to be rebuffed by a flight attendant who told her, “Oh, no, sweetie. Put your hand down. We are looking for actual physicians or nurses. We don’t have time to talk to you.”

Representatives for Saleh did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

libby.hill@latimes.com

Twitter: @midwestspitfire

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UPDATES:

11:10 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Saleh.

This article was originally published at 10:35 a.m.

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